Monday 27 July 2020

Government gets it right

The government's decision to demand a fortnight's quarantine  from travellers returning from Spain was announced with little warning, but surely that's the way things are.

Most of us are very critical of the government's slowness in imposing lockdown  in the initial stages of the pandemic.   Surely they are  to be congratulated on seeing the light and now acting promptly, despite the consequent stranding of some travellers and the cancellation of the holidays of others.

I have considerable sympathy for those who had booked this year's summer holiday last year or before March this year.  Many  will have agonised as to whether or not to go ahead, but decided to take the risk, given that the pandemic seemed to have peaked.  Happily for them their insurance policies, if they took them out, should cover them for some if not all of their financial losses.

I have no sympathy for those who have booked their foreign holidays since mid-March. Their attitude seem to be one off: "We want a continental holiday, we have a right to a continental holiday, and we are going to have one whatever the consequences."

Surely this is the height of arrogance, insouciance, and  indifference to the welfare of others.

Contrast this with the behaviour of the villagers of Eyam in Derbyshire during the Great Plague of 1665/6 

These villagers, under the leadership of their Rector and a Unitarian Minister, voluntarily agreed to quarantine themselves, and did so for 14 months, to prevent the  disease, introduced to Eyam in a roll of tailor's cloth, from spreading to the surrounding areas. 

The one known  exception was their squire, who, in today's jargon, "did a Cummings"  and scarpered.

The example of the villagers of Eyam was highlighted in the early days of the pandemic, when the "self first" brigade were  scrabbling for the last rolls of lavatory paper in our supermarkets.  Some of our fellow citizens seem to have learned little from it.

The frightening lesson of this  pandemic is that we are not. as we had come to think, the masters of nature (if not the actual universe) and able to control it to satisfy every one of our own desires. 

There are floods and fires: there will be more plagues. 

 The Black Death of the 1347-51 killed off at least 30% of Europe's population.  Maybe "we ain't seen nothing yet."

We must learn to moderate our arrogant desire to do as we like and damn the consequences.


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